The New England Patriots entered their offseason with 21 players headed for free agency. They already took care of three of those over the course of last week.
Among the players addressed was long-time captain and core special teamer Matthew Slater. The Patriots announced last Friday that Slater would be back for a 16th season with the club, hinting toward a new contract being signed.
That has indeed happened, and via a report from ESPN’s Field Yates we now know what it looks like.
Matthew Slater: Contract details
Base salary: $2.52 million
Signing bonus: $152,500
Salary cap hit: $1.32 million
Slater’s deal appears to be pretty straight forward at first glance. He will play on a $2.52 million base salary this season and also received a $152,500 signing bonus. No additional incentives or roster bonuses have been added to the equation.
Despite the contract value totaling a fully-guaranteed $2.67 million, the Patriots’ salary cap will only be hit with $1.32 million.
Why? Look no further than Article 27, Section 7 of the 2020 NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement: the Patriots and Slater, just like they have last year, reached an agreement on a so-called Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract.
That type of contract essentially works like this: if a player has been with the team for four or more continuous and uninterrupted years upon his contract’s expiration, he qualifies for a one-year deal that will only partially be counted versus his team’s salary cap. Per the CBA, clubs are allowed to allocate $1.35 million that way and put that sum on top of the minimum salary for a player of this level of experience.
When it comes to Matthew Slater, his minimum salary for the 2023 season is $1.17 million. Add this number and his $152,500 signing bonus and you get the $1.32 million cap hit mentioned above. The remaining $1.35 million, meanwhile, is considered a benefit and therefore not subject to the salary cap.
“It is a great honor and blessing to return to the Patriots for my 16th season,” Slater said on Friday via a statement released by the team. “I thank God for His continued grace and provision over my career. I look forward to continuing to play under the leadership of Coach Belichick. Thank you to the Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization for allowing me to continue to pursue my childhood dream. See you in the fall. God Bless.”
A fifth-round selection by the Patriots in the 2008 NFL Draft, Slater developed into the premier special teams player of his era and a cornerstone of the organization’s Dynasty 2.0. As such, he appeared in a combined 248 regular season and playoff games and helped bring three Super Bowl wins to New England.
With his new contract signed, the 37-year-old will get another chance to add to what is already an impressive résumé.
As for the other two players mentioned above, the team handled them in two different ways. Offensive tackle Conor McDermott was re-signed as well, even though his contract details are not yet known. Wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson, on the other hand, was waived and has since been claimed by the Indianapolis Colts.